Tag Archives: work

Stabby commuter, party of one

So Tuesday morning I had to haul my ass out of bed at 4:30am.  For reals.  Like, to actually get UP.  Not just to get up to pee, or shoo the cat out of the room or any such shit as that.  No, I was UP suckers.  For the day.  And why?  Because there was this workshop I had to attend in Toronto.  And it started at 7:30am.  So in order to be on time, I had the 4:30 wake-up call so I could get myself organized and dressed and all that in order to be able to get to the bus station for the 6am bus. 

Are you still with me?  Because this?  This is not even crack of dawn kind of waking up.  This is the middle of the night waking up.  And it sucked large.  But I did it, because I am the employee of the fucking year. 

So good.  Get to the station, buy my ticket and I say “the bus is at 6, right?” and the nice lady (seriously, she was SO nice and it was 5:45am, who is like this??) told me that yes, there was a bus at 6, but there was also one leaving in 5 minutes.  So rather than sit for 15 minutes waiting for a bus and risk falling asleep on a bench and spending the day there, I opted for the 5:50 bus.  Get on, get my seat – the bus is surprisingly empty at this time of day – and proceed to zone out as best I can in an upright position and on a moving bus. 

So we go along, hitting a few stops in the city on our way out to the highway, and I’m chiling and congratulating myself on actually being awake, showered, fed and on time for this whole thing and then, once we hit the highway?  Dead stop.  And it’s dark, so it’s impossible to see what is going on, but you know what was going on?  Nothing.  We were stopped dead on the highway because the volume of traffic was so huge, it was stop and go.  STOP AND GO BEFORE 6AM, people!  What the hell?

Now, I know that travelling between Hamilton and Toronto is brutal during the rush hour times.  What I did not know was that rush hour is pretty much all the time.  Seriously.  I fully expected to just sail on through, arriving at my destination with plenty of time to spare.  But no.  The bus pulled in at 7:25am – if you’ll remember, my bus actually left the station at 5:50am.  Do the math and that is 1 hour and 35 minutes (I think – my math skillz are bad) for a trip that should take less than an hour. 

So anyway, I hauled ass (well actually I stumbled around) to the subway, got on, got off, and walked the 2 minutes to the hospital where the workshop was being held – now it is 7:35 so I am already 5 minutes late, but whatever.  There is a Starbucks in the lobby and I am drawn to its siren song, so I waste a couple of minutes getting my fix, and then, finally, make my way to the workshop by about 7:42am.

And you know what happened after that?  We get the announcement that we are “waiting for a few people who are going to be late” and this mothereffing show did not get on the mothereffing road until nearly 8:30. 

Fortunately we wrapped up around 4pm, but I was braindead after about 2:00, overcaffeinated and stabby.  And of course, I still had to get home.  Which took 2 hours.  My husband, bless his everloving everything, had bought wine, and so I spent the entire evening sitting in a chair in my jammies, with my feet up drinking wine and staring blankly into the middle distance, thanking my lucky stars that I don’t have to do that every day. 

And you know what else?  I am still so bone tired that I can barely function.  Which is why you’re getting a blog post out of me instead of me actually doing some actual work.  But whatever.  Employee of the year, remember?

Poster (session) girl

I just sent off a poster session proposal to the organizers of a big fancy schmancy library conference in Toronto.  It’s held the first week of February, so I will hear by the end of next month, probably.  I have never done this before.  My stomach hurts.  BUT, I think it’s a good one, and I think it will be useful to library world peeps, particularly the ones in health libraries (actually only the ones in health libraries, but whatever)

I have attended this conference a few times and it’s always good, and apparently it’s the biggest one in Canada.  Which I suppose is saying something.  So it’s exciting that I may get to attend as a presenter.  And by presenter I mean, of course, standing by my novelty oversized poster, trying to look approachable so people will come and learn about our program and answer questions about it all while maintaining a professional demeanour and hoping that there are free drinks at the meet-and-greet afterwards.

Fingers crossed I can pull it off.  I’ll let you know when I hear the news.

An open letter to the people of my workplace

Hi everyone,

I’m guessing a lot of you don’t get out much.  Call it a hunch.  But you know what?  Patterned tights have been around for a long time – no, really!  Why, back in high school I actually owned a pair of green tartan pantyhose, I kid you not!  And they looked pretty rad with my fuschia miniskirt, let me tell you.

Anyway, my point is that this stuff isn’t new.  And when you make a point of stopping me in the hallway to squeal “Where did you GET those???” or holler to your friend “Shirley you have GOT to come and check these out!!” or even attempt to touch my leg because you’re curious and you have never SEEN anything like that before??  Well, let’s just say.  It’s awkward.  And it’s rude, and it’s fucking annoying.

I don’t like attention like that.  I do my best to be quite anonymous in the hallways of the cancer centre, and do you know why?  It’s because sometimes I know patients.  I know them personally.  And I see them waiting for their appointments, and I do my very best NOT to let them see me unless they absolutely want to.  It’s called privacy, and my place of work kind of takes it seriously.  You should know this, because you work here too. 

I also don’t appreciate feeling like a freak.  I know, I know, you’re only doing it because “they look so great on you!” or “they’re so interesting, I just have to know where to get a pair for my daughter/niece/friend”, but as soon as those words leave your lips, EVERYONE within a 500 metre radius is staring at my legs and I am not ok with that.  So, you know, there’s that.  Freakshow, party of one, amirite?

You know, there’s actually a way to do this.  If you admire something I’m wearing, I am going to be flattered.  Particularly if you approach me when I am alone – say in line for coffee or in the elevator.  And particularly if you say “cute tights, love the pattern” or something equally as low-key.  I appreciate that, and there have been times where I too have admired a pair of shoes or a jacket someone was wearing, and I have waited until an appropriate time to let them know.  Because it makes people feel good.  And you know what else?  Sometimes you just don’t get an appropriate time to tell someone you like their shoes or whatever.  Sometimes it just isn’t in the cards for that day.  But maybe the next time you see them wearing them, there will be an opening and you can say “love those shoes, do you mind telling me where you got them?”  And they will probably be ok with that, and they will probably tell you.

But when you chase me down the hallway shrieking to your friends that I’m wearing houndstooth check tights and “isn’t that the most adorable thing you’ve ever seen??”  That shit only makes me want to run faster.  Or to stop altogether.  And kick you in the head.



Rockstars, real and fake.

So I am totally digging Bettie Serveert’s new album.  Wait, can you say “totally digging”?  Is that like mixing metaphors?  Except that it’s mixing era-specific descriptives?  You know, “totally” = 80s and “digging” = 60s?  I know what you’re thinking: for someone who does a lot of crappy punctuation and LOLspeak in her blog posts, you  care about really stupid things, UIG.

Okay.  So I am really enjoying the new album from Bettie Serveert.  Now here is a band with some staying power, and while I personally lost track of them somewhere around the late 90s, apparently they were pretty prolific and busted out a whole whack of records  – like close to a dozen – that I am clearly now going to have to go out and get.  Damn you, Bettie Serveert for still being as awesome as I remember and now having to drop a whole paycheque on your back catalogue. 

But seriously, it’s a good one.  Go check it out.  My only complaint?  It’s kind of short.  But it’s got good jangly rhythms and I can tell it’s going to be my go-to record for the summer.  Which might actually be starting on Friday, people.  25C by the weekend, can you dig it?  I, for one, can totally dig it.

And, in other rockstar news, I am taking my “How to Find Good Stuff and Avoid Shit on the Interwebs When You’re Looking for Health Information and Why You Shouldn’t Believe Everything You Hear or Read in the Media” schtick on the road next week.  It’s actually just a talk I did at a conference in the fall, and I have been asked by another group to present it for their community lecture series.  So it’s cool, but as I talked about before, I am not used to being the expert in anything, and seeing my name and title and stuff in the paper and on posters all over the place here at work, and having to provide a bio so they can introduce me properly is a bit intimidating. 

And if you think that maybe I should just get used to the fact that I am an expert in some things, and that I will be called upon many times to talk about shit about which I know a lot and just freaking embrace the rockstar life that goes with it, here’s an exchange that happened between me and a patient just last week:

her:  Well, you have a lot of good information in this library, don’t you?

me:  Thank you, we really try to have a lot of good, current information, yes.

her:  You know, if you’re looking for good information, there is going to be a talk in a couple of weeks…

me:  Oh – yes?

her:  Yes!  It’s all about searching the internet for health information, and how to figure out what’s best and avoid the stuff that’s bogus!

me:  Uh…yeah…that’s….

her:  You should really go to it!

me:  Actually, that’s my talk.  I’m giving that talk.

her:  :blank stare:

me:  Haha, yep, that’s me!

her:  Oh.  You don’t look old enough.

There, you see?  My public.  Helping me keep it real since 2007.

A clean desk is the sign of a what?

Since it’s the end of the year and even more precisely, the end of a decade, I have been taking the time here at work to do a bit of housecleaning.  Or deskcleaning I guess it is.  (and incidentally, did you catch that?  Still blogging from work.  Santa clearly did not get the memo about the adorable netbook I so desperately need)  So where was I?  Yes, deskcleaning.  I am a fairly organized person, but when it comes to my desk, I seem to have trouble.  Sometimes it’s not entirely my fault.  People give me things.  Articles, pieces of paper, drafts of patient education materials, handbooks.  For the most part I manage to file things accordingly or give them back to their owners when possible, but every so often, shit gets away from me and I wind up with stacks of paper and other stuff that I just can’t seem to clear.  So yesterday and today I have been spending a good chunk of quality time with the surface of my desk; clearing, filing, dusting (omg ewww…), wiping surfaces with lovely Method French Lavender-scented wipes (I am totally serious), and just generally getting the place shipshape in time for the new year.  And I have to admit that I am loving it, and am going to do my best to keep it this way for the entire year.  Ahaha – no really.

When I was doing my library skooling, I did a placement at a special library.  Which is, for those of you who aren’t hip to the ‘brary-speak, a library that is part of an organization or company, as opposed to a public, school, academic, etc. library.  So not special as in “awww, special!” just, you know, specialIZED.  Or something.  Anyway, I was working there for about a month, and was paired with a lovely woman in cataloguing who was rather eccentric in the best possible ways.  She was very smart, had an amazing sense of style which had nothing to do with the 20th century, and she was extremely good at helping me understand subject cataloguing.  Which is pretty awesome because while I have mad library skillz, they do not lie in the cataloguing.  But, by the time I was finished with this placement, I had actually grown to enjoy it.  And even considered applying for cataloguing jobs.  Yeah, she was that good.

The one thing I remember most about her was her desk.  It was always clean.  Not during work hours, where she’d have zillions of books and papers on it in order to do her job, but at the end of every day she would straighten and organize and only then would she shut off her computer and make her way home.  This fascinated me to no end.  And not only would her desk be clean, but she had the habit of lining up her pencils and pens (she only ever had one or two on the go at any time) vertically in the centre of the desk, in preparation for the next day.  The whole process was so zen, so ritualized.  And do you know what happened?  By the end of my time there, I was doing the exact same thing.  Clearing things away, straightening, EVEN LINING UP MY PENS.  And each morning I came back in to work I felt this sense of calm, as the quiet writing tools greeted me, grounding me and allowing me to get right down to business.

So, what happened?  Why have I lost that sense of order? 

Have you ever had a job where you had to look busy all the time?  Even if you’re checking the movie listings online or reading blogs or whatever because you really have nothing to do, even after you’ve asked for stuff to do?  I spent many years in jobs like that, and it seemed that the more files you had on your desk, the more journals that were open to interesting (and work-related) articles, the more pieces of paper that were stacked up around you meant that you were working hard and were busy.  Those kind of jobs?  Are soul-sucking and I have had more than my share.  But now, I am in a fantastic job where I am busy most of the time and if I’m not, it’s ok to take an extended lunch or read a couple of blogs.  It’s real grown-up work, and the only reason I have a fortress of paper around me now is that it’s become habit.  So what better way to start the new year than to make a fresh start, to file the articles, put away the journals and shred the papers that need to be shredded.  And, of course, make a resolution to never let it get that bad again.  So now, the old “A clean desk is the sign of a sick mind” quote?  Does not apply.  Think of the calming properties of a clean desk, think of arriving in the morning to a desk with nothing staring at you, nothing commanding you to get right to work on this or that project before you have even taken off your coat.  Feels pretty damned good to me.

Lining up your pencils is optional.

And in this corner…

Remember last month when I wrote how it was exactly a month until I had to present at a conference, but it was all good because I had a whole month to prepare, so whatever?  Yeah, it’s now two days away and I am starting to get nervous.  I’m finished my slides, of course, and have submitted them to the conference organizers to load on a laptop that I will use to do my talk, so that part is off my shoulders.  But it’s the whole doing my talk thing that is weighing heavy.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to talk.  A lot.  I used to get in trouble in school for talking.  A lot.  And, I can get up in front of people and talk, no problem.  I get nervous, sure.  I have a leg that likes to jig when I get nervous too, just to make things interesting, but I really am ok with it, and I usually enjoy it.  I’ve spoken dozens of times to large groups of students when I worked in the hallowed halls of Soul-Sucking College Library; I’ve made presentations to scientists during my time working in a research library and have even been part of a large talk here at the cancer centre, and they’ve always gone well.  So what gives?  The most worrisome thing for me is when I come to the end of my presentation, to the last slide that usually reads something like “Thanks for your attention.  Questions?” that all hell breaks loose.  Or at least I expect it to.  It’s question period that scares the crap out of me because I’m always afraid the audience will have questions to which I do not know the answers

You know, normally I don’t have a problem saying “I don’t know” to a question on a daily basis.  I actually say it quite a lot in this job, since patients often have questions related to their specific medical condition that I’m not even qualified to know, let alone have the answer readily available.  But somehow, when I’m invited to speak at a conference where I am the supposed “expert” on this topic, I feel like I really ought to be, you know, omnipotent or something.  Which is completely ridiculous, I know.  And yet, I still go there.  And the bizarre thing too is that I know my stuff, I am usually able to fully answer the questions that are fired at me, and – and here’s the thing that I just haven’t been able to come to terms with yet – I actually kind of am the expert on this topic. 

What it boils down to then, is more of an issue of self-esteem.  I am asked to speak to a large group of people because those who are organizing the event know that I am the best person to ask to speak because of my knowledge, my excellent communication, my mad presenting skillz.  Which is awesome, right?   So why do I still feel like I’m not worthy?  And you know, I’ve never even really had a bad experience following a presentation.  But I’ve seen enough of them go down to come to the conclusion that it’s only a matter of time before it happens to me.  And I’ll probably handle it just fine.  Or I won’t, maybe.  I guess you don’t know until you’re faced with the situation. 

So on Wednesday I will organize my handouts and pack them up and take them to the conference centre, find my presentation room, grab a glass of water, wait to be introduced, and get started talking about what I know an awful lot about.  And people will enjoy it.  I almost wrote “people will enjoy it, or they won’t” giving myself an out, but why sing that same old self-defeating tune and expect the worst?  Why not expect that people will not only enjoy my talk, but will love it!  Will applaud wildly and cheer and ask for more!  Will hail me as the “Queen of Information”!  Sure, why not go into the fray feeling like the audience is totally on your side, why wouldn’t you do that?  I don’t know, I just never do.  Until now.

I just found out that 60 people have registered for my (my!) session, and registration remains open until tomorrow, so there could be more.  So at least 60 people actually signing up and actually to hear me speak.  Dudes.  SIXTY PEOPLE are going to be out there listening to me at a conference they’ve actually paid to attend.  This isn’t a bunch of students who would rather be anywhere else.  These participants will likely remain awake! And attentive! 

And you know what?  I am gonna knock their socks off, or die trying.

Weeks that suck

Some weeks just suck.   Let’s take a look at why.

My job isn’t particularly stressful deadline-wise, or co-worker-wise or any sort of -wise, really.  Parts of it can be difficult sure; helping scared and angry and anxious cancer patients and all, but mostly it’s pretty even keeled.  This week though, has been kind of a stressful one.  I think flying solo is really starting to get to me.  I’m alone in the ‘brary 3 days out of 5 – my co-worker works part-time, 2 days a week.  We get along really well, which is great because we share a super-small office.  This month she has taken some extended vacation, so I haven’t actually seen her since the 7th of September.  She’s back on Monday and I cannot freaking wait.  Is it that I adore her that much?  Well, she’s pretty rad, but mostly?  She helps buffer the crazy. 

When you work in public service, no matter how much you love it, how much you love people and helping them find information and listening to their stories and setting their minds at ease?  You need a fucking break from it every so often.  Or at least I do.  I love my job, and right now I can’t imagine doing anything else, but when for three solid weeks I have to do all the listening and reassuring and tissue-handing and everything…well.  I’m just really, really tired.  Emotionally, I have nothing left.  And that’s not good.  Now I’m not about to start flipping off patients or anything like that – I have some standards, after all.  I am just putting it out there that I am exhausted, and I am done. 

And you know what else makes for a week that sucks?

When your mother calls at 9:30pm to tell you that a family friend, who you’ve known your whole life, who has actually known you since before you were born, because he has been friends with your parents for like 55 years, has had a heart attack.  And he died on the way to the hospital.

And, about an hour after learning this sad, sad news, your elderly cat starts having massive breathing problems – he’s done this before, but somehow this is different, scarier – so you stay up and watch him for awhile, and then you go to bed and your husband stays up and watches him until he seems much better, and in the morning, your husband takes him to the vet, and they think it’s one thing and they want to keep him for the day to monitor him, and then they call your husband part way through the day and tell him that kitty isn’t responding to anything, that there’s a lot more going on than they’d thought and that he’d better come and see him if he can,  and be there while they put him down, because there’s nothing they can do for him.

Those kind of weeks?  Just suck.